Our Top tip #4 was to fill up on fibre for all the health benefits it provides, and this brings us onto the next top tip which is to increase the variety of plant based foods in your diet.

We get an enormous amount of nutrients – vitamins, minerals as well as polyphenols and antioxidants – from plant based foods that not only keep our gut healthy but are beneficial for blood sugar balance, heart health, weight management and immune support to name just a few.

But how often do you make swops when you food shop?  Do you pile your trolley with the same old fruit and veg week in week out?

We should all be making an effort to eat a variety plants based foods each week – it has been recommend that we should aim for 30 different kinds!

This might sound dauting but here are a few pointers to help you in the right direction and remember that nuts and seeds (tip #5), herbs and spices (tip #7)  all count towards that magic number:

  • Start adding beans and lentils to your cooking: you can add them to salads, soups as well as casseroles.  There is a huge variety out there and they come in lots of different sizes and colours.  If you’re used to using kidney beans, why not swop with black beans, green or brown lentils or black eye peas.  You can buy them dried, canned or vacuum packed.
  • Cook extra roasted vegetables to either freeze or whizz into a soup for later in the week.  You can really go to town on variety here too – try roasted fennel and different coloured peppers.  Courgettes take on a new flavour when roasted in olive oil and finished with lemon zest. Generally roasting vegetables bring out all their flavours.  Be bold and try roasting something you would normally steam or boil (maybe not peas!!) Broccoli roasted and then dressed with lemon juice and chopped garlic is a flavour sensation!
  • Stock up your freezer with frozen veg which can be handy if all you’ve got left is a few limp beans that have escaped to the bottom of the fridge drawer.  Broad beans are great frozen and defrost very quickly.  The variety of frozen veg is better than ever so revisit that section of your supermarket and get a few bags in.
  • Challenge yourself to add at least one different plant based food to your basket every week.  If you usually choose green peppers, try yellow or orange instead; buy pak or bok choi instead of cabbage or broccoli; try purple sprouting broccoli instead of green; you could try quinoa or other grains such as barley, spelt or freekeh – you can often find these pre-cooked and vacuum packed which are so handy to sprinkle on salads or to replace rice and pasta.
  • Eat a rainbow on your plate: ie lots of different colours: red (strawberries, raspberries, tomatoes), orange (squash, sweet potato, carrots, oranges), yellow (apricots, mango, papaya, yellow peppers), green (green leafy veg – watercress, broccoli, cabbage, spring greens); blue (plums, red grapes, blueberries, blackcurrants, cherries); purple (aubergines, purple sprouting broccoli, red cabbage, plums)

You can find more tips here: https://joinzoe.com/post/eat-more-plants

Photo by Engin Akyurt: www.pexels.com